Thursday 16 October 2008

A week is a long time in politics

After along and at times disparate Yacht Club campaign, bringing to the attention of the community and expose our politicians hypocrisy, serial doer Bryan Law reflects on the effort to protect our heritage.

There were plenty of tears today as a small group of us gathered and watched the heavy machinery tear into the timbers of the Aquatic Dance Palais.

Mark Buttrose swung by early and photographed the destruction. Mark says that all pretense is gone now, and the demolition process has so destroyed the building that it will never be put back up.

When the big truck with the roof trusses started to leave the site, Wendy Davies stepped forward and stood in its path. Wendy was staunch in her determination and refused to leave when directed by Police. So effectively that Police arrested her and charged her with 'contravening a Police direction'. Wendy stayed in the watch-house till 3.30pm, and will re-appear at Court No 1 at 9.30am Friday. The arresting police officer was brusque to brutal with Wendy.

I lay down in front of the truck and was carefully relocated by Police into a Paddy Wagon. I was driven to the watch-house and released with a 'move on' direction to stay away from that section of Wharf Street. I came back to the Casino (across the road) and planned a little action where I trespassed on the demolition site. Rather than stop the machinery and wait for Police once I got on site, I was assaulted and ejected from the site by workers from Anton Demolitions. Then police arrested and charged me.

I feel bad that maybe I asked people to do too much. I seem to always do that.

I see from the e-mail traffic that many folk are coming to that hard place where the building itself is lost, and there’s a relentless effort by our various opponents in government and media to belittle and undermine our efforts. That Cairns Post article by Roger Dickson on 'Wet’n No Balls' is a classic example of distraction and ridicule. The infantalising of politics.

Another example is the deliberate manufacture of allegations that Di Forsyth has somehow offended against the Cairns Regional Council Code of Conduct. What piffle, and yet it has been used to guide discussion of the issues – while democratic accountability and the petition of 11,000 has been left out.

The direct action campaign is over. There is no more that can be done. I’m looking forward to a week of getting back to chores and everyday responsibilities. Go for a swim. See a movie.

But I’m also going to follow through on some of the problems disclosed during our brief moments of defiance.

I’m going to Cairns Court Friday morning to support Wendy Davies, and on 24 October for Sharon Powell, and 30th October for Di Forsyth and John Rodden.

I think that for Councillor Di Forsyth, I’d like to organise a presence of scores of citizens to express support for her efforts at sticking up for People before Profit. We still face the issue of strengthening democratic culture. Supporting good women like Di is one way of doing that.

I’m going to follow through on complaints to Police and Cairns Port Authority about actual violence used by workers and security guards during this week’s direct actions (ladder pushing and assault). This is to increase safety and respect in future protests and dissent, and generally to pursue nonviolent culture.

I’m going to continue questioning our MPs Desley Boyle, Steve Wettenhall, Mayor Val Schier, and various others about their conduct in relation to this issue.

I’m going to question Wendy Richardson and other candidates for election about what they’d do differently, and how they’ll develop Cairns waterfront.

Thank you everyone.


Anonymous said...

Despite exhortations by this blog and Bryan Law, only four or five unemployed layabouts showed up to "protest" at the former Yacht Club site.

This shows that the community has moved on.
This shows that this blog has zero influence.
This shows that Bryan Law is a washed up commie never-was.

It's over. Move on.

Janine Aitken said...

Bryan Outlaw I take offence to your comment given I was in attendance, I have three Jobs actually I just happen to have the flexibility to be able to pay my bills and stand up for what I believe in, oh and use my real name.

The community hasn't moved on, its just that there is literally nothing left on the physical site to fight for. Supporters of the Yacht Club have moved the fight to the offices of those responsible for conning the public that this was ever a relocation of a heritage building.

Just because you cant see physical people standing in front of you does not mean the fight is over. The written word can be much more persuasive and dangerous especially something I’m sure even you will agree with.

Anonymous said...

Bryan Outlaw,(why are people so gutless that they do not use their real names, real names real people, dummy names.......well you figure that one out)?

I have a job also, and I was there. Moving on from here will be to do everything in my power to NEVER let the people of Cairns forget this travesty.

Bryan Law is a very brave, articulate man. Qualities you would not be able to comprehend. To put yourself on the line, and stand up for what you beleive in, is far from being communist, it's called courageous. You ought to try it some day.

Anonymous said...

I am so saddened by the unnecessary destruction of the Cairns Yacht Club. As a resident of Port Douglas I can completely understand the desire of so many to retain such heritage. In saying that, I was not able to attend the protests due to the distances involved and the fact that I work! The same things prevent me from attending Council much for local democracy and the State's idea of "stronger councils". I will be taking a day off and attending a protest on the 28th October at the Parliamentary Sitting in Cairns. The State Govt. is refusing to listen to many. Let it be at their peril.

Anonymous said...


You complain that "only four or five unemployed layabouts showed up to "protest" at the former Yacht Club site."

What's your point man?

Perhaps that paticular variety of 'layabout' is too busy filling out forms for Centrelink these days to exercise their democratic rights?

Incidentally, do you include yourself in your 'layabout' count?

And to which category did you allocate Janine, who has three jobs, a blog, many fans and still finds time to go to demos that get up your anonymous nose?

(I regret that, primarily to preserve my relatively small greenhouse footprint, I wasn't there either - except in spirit)

Unknown said...

Bryan Outlaw, you are wrong. I was there as well. I am (self)employed, employ 4 other people and have done so for 20 years. What is your contribution to society ?

This is not about your personal vendetta against Bryan Law.

It is about the Cairns Yacht Club that is now being demolished by a clueless demolition mob instead of being "relocated" by a an experienced , specialised relocation company.

It is about an out-of-touch government that will not listen to the people it is supposed to represent.

And finally it is about the sort of place we want Cairns to be. If Kevin Byrne's recent proud unveiling of the "Twin Towers project' is anything to go by, we have a lot to look forward to. This sort of ugly legoland design went out of fashion in Europe 20 years ago. How hard is it to design something that blends in with our beuatiful natural surroundings and existing architecture ?

Anna Bligh announced today that the controversial North Bank development on the Brisabane River had been scrapped, because she had "listened to the people" ! So why would she not listen to the people of Cairns who did not want their heritage flogged off to the highest bidder?

By the way Brian Outlaw (great wordplay..), if this blog has zero influence, why do you post on it ? Won't the Cairns Post publish your rubbish or are you just to gutless to put your name to your opinions...

Anonymous said...

Syd Walker makes the point that he was there in spirit at the protests about the demolition of our waterfront heritage. Syd, I bet your spirit wasn’t alone!

Many people for various reasons did not attend our Yacht Club rallies or the direct action, but it does not mean they didn’t care.

One of the appalling things I have personally experienced in this situation, and my observation of it in other community groups with their issues too, is the level of effort that citizens have to go to, to be heard in this so-called democratic society.

It has had a profound effect on me and I can honestly pledge to people, as I enter a phase of political candidacy, that I will be sensitized to this. If elected, I will look very carefully at what people are trying to say (rather than keep telling them they are wrong or just ignoring them) and not assume that a small delegation only represents a minority group. I will endeavour to do my best to see that all points of view are properly heard, considered, and honest feedback given.

I recommend to everyone who is able to, that they attend the ‘Voice of the People’ Rally (my name for it) scheduled for 12:45 p.m. on the Grafton Street side of the Convention Centre on Tuesday 28th October. This rally is set to coincide with the Regional sitting of State Parliament and will bring together people with different issues who have all had the common experience of feeling unheard and unimportant to the current State Government.

The rally will be an important reminder to our elected representatives of all political persuasions that people demand proper representation.

Anonymous said...

Western Australia, Northern Territory, now New South Wales, and a slide in the ACT with the GREENS getting the majority there. Wendy Richardson was right about one thing, WetenNOBALLS should be scared, very scared. Demo Desley probably will not realise what damage she has done here in her Cairns electorate, until she wakes up the day after the election, even though THE PEOPLE have been telling her for some time now. But hell, when did Labor Pollies ever listen to THE PEOPLE?

Anonymous said...

If one thing was learned in respect to the Cairns Yacht Club issue it was finally, the stark reality that the community is completely powerless. It has no honest, creditable representation at either the local or state level. Respect and adherence to the law is the province of we downtrodden members of the community while local and state entities are free to disregard and manipulate the law at will and ignore the wishes of the community it supposedly represents.

The Cairns Port Authority it would appear is a law unto itself with nothing open or transparent about decision making. A prime example is the situation where so called “strategic port” land the intent for which has nothing to do with the delivery of port services but everything to do with making money, can be developed under a development lease (in effect sold and therefore non-port authority freehold) but where no title is transferred until the project is completed. While it is still so called “strategic port land” any development is “exempt” development under the complete control of the CPA. The development controls and conditions that are required for development in the rest of the local government area don’t apply. The public has no right of comment or objection and no way of determining what development is proposed or who the developer is until it’s all over.
The State Government’s 2003-04 Report of State Finances confirms this:
It stated that on the 28 July 2004 the CPA entered into a development lease with an external party who will undertake development on land within the Cityport precinct. CPA will receive lease payments for the term of the development lease and when the project is completed and payment is made of the consideration for the sale of the land, the title will be transferred to the developer. The title is transferred after development is completed because that way the land continues to be exempt from the Cairns planning scheme under Section 287 of the Transport & Infrastructure Act. In reality the CPA has its own planning scheme within a planning scheme. It is obvious that this is the process being adopted for strategic port land the government intends to flog off to private developers. Look no further than the Harbour Lights development as an example of what the community can expect on its waterfront.

When you look at some of the CPA’s values and corporate objectives it’s a joke.
• Treat internal and external stakeholders with honesty, dignity and respect
• Seek and value feedback from our community and other stakeholders
• Conducting operations in compliance with legislation
• Being regarded as a responsible and caring corporate citizen
• Operating in an ecologically sustainable manner

This is the same entity that completely disregarded statutory law under the Coastal Protection and Management Act namely the Wet Tropical Coast Regional Coastal Management Plan (WTCRCMP) that designated the CYC along with the Wharf precinct as an “area of state significance (cultural heritage).” The Wharf precinct was listed on the Qld Heritage register but not the CYC despite its equal status. This is the same entity that failed to address the cultural heritage component of “valuable features” a core matter of Land Use Plans under the Transport & Infrastructure Act. Their Cityport Local Area plan failed to address the cultural heritage values of the CYC and in fact the Heritage Code does not apply to Precinct 7, the land in which the CYC sat. Cultural heritage values include local heritage values. The is the same entity that ignores State policy and doesn’t seem to understand that “ecological sustainability” also includes the maintenance of the cultural, economic, physical and social well being of people and communities; provides that areas and places of special aesthetic, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific, social or spiritual significance are conserved or enhanced.
Nothing the CPA or Hon John Mickel MP says in regard to the petition, will change the facts. The Hon John Mickel is after all a shareholding Minister of Cairns Ports. The CYC did satisfy cultural heritage significance criteria as to its cultural heritage values. It lost provisional listing only because the CPA and others objected on the grounds that a heritage boundary could not be established, a complete nonsense. The CPA obtained a Certificate of Immunity for one reason only. To prevent any further application being made to list the CYC on the Qld Heritage Register until 2009 and prevent any obstruction to development plans.
What does this whole disgraceful saga say about our State government and the Code of Conduct for CPA officers: “Officers should endeavour to understand the relevant laws and regulations impacting on CPA’s business activities and not knowingly commit a breach of these laws and regulations. Compliance with laws and regulations is to be actively promoted to all staff and in all business dealings.”

At the local level there has been an utter and complete failure on the part of Council to take action to protect and conserve an important cultural heritage resource. Council minutes over the years have acknowledged and confirmed that the CYC was highly valued by the community and should be protected. Nothing was done of course and in fact our former Council in 2003 knowingly mislead the Queensland Heritage Council by stating [as confirmed in Ordinary Minutes 25 Sept 2003] “council acknowledges that there is evidence to suggest the place has local significance to the cairns community, however there is no evidence to suggest the place is of statewide significance.” Council knew very well as did the Cairns Port Authority of the designated status of the CYC under the WTCRCMP. Both entities were actively involved in its drafting and implementation and both Councillor Bonneau and Mayor Kevin Byrne were members of the Regional Consultative Group involved in the process. Misleading statements are an offence under Section 166 of the Qld Heritage Act.

It makes a mockery of Ethics principles for local government councillors – integrity, primacy of public interest and transparency and scrutiny. This is the Council that intends to investigate Councillor Di Forsyth for a Code of Conduct breach for trying to do what the Council should have done years ago. It’s laughable.

Our new Mayor should have bitten the bullet and told the CPA and the State Government where to get off and used the Queensland Heritage Act to do it. Section 113 of the Act requires local governments to keep a local heritage register of places of cultural heritage significance in its area. The Council on its own initiative under Section 116 had the right to propose entry of the CYC building on its register. The Cairns Regional Council and the former Cairns City Council was not exempt from Section 113 because it was not a prescribed Council under Section 112. Strategic port land is only exempt from the planning scheme in relation to development assessment. The council had every right to list the CYC because it is in its local government area. If the CYC building had been entered on the local register any development would have been subject to Schedule 2, Code for IDAS under the Qld Heritage Regulation 2003.

The purpose of this IDAS code is to ensure development on a local heritage place is compatible with the cultural heritage significance of the place by—
(a) preventing the demolition or removal of local heritage places; and
(b) maintaining or encouraging the appropriate use of local heritage places; and
(c) protecting the materials and setting of local heritage places; and
(d) ensuring development on a local heritage place is compatible with the cultural heritage significance of the place.

The CPA may well have been the Assessment Manager for any proposed development but it would have had to take account of the local heritage listing. The whole intent and purpose of the Integrated Planning Act is a framework to integrate planning and development assessment at the local, regional and state level so that development and its effects are managed in a way that is ecologically sustainable. Strategic port land is not immune from the Integrated Planning Act.

What does a community have to do to get justice? To make those that supposedly represent their interests do what they are legally required to do. The city and its heritage are being systematically destroyed by inappropriate development and greed. The planning scheme is never adhered to; dispensations are given right, left and centre. Development approval conditions are ignored and breached and there is no enforcement. Community issues and concerns are ignored or brushed off. The very essence of local communities and suburbs are being destroyed along with their environments. Clifton Beach is a graphic illustration of a total dereliction of duty on the part of Council. Residents have no recourse and are already living with the consequences of these appalling developments. It will be a living hell when they are occupied and it won’t be the last. These sorts of developments will soon be everywhere. It’s called “infill development.” This is “progress” Council and State government style, the justification for everything. It makes a complete mockery of their touted environmental, cultural heritage and social well-being of communities, policies and credentials.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I am totally sick and tired of this Labour Govt. I would like to ask Wendy Richardson if she will actually continue listening to people if she were to get elected? We have just had local elections and we all know that promises have and will again be broken. My question is will you listen to people and then act? Will you cross the floor if your electorate asks you to do it? Or will you just tow the party line as soon as elected and forget those who put you there? I am hoping like hell that whoever wins this next election, that we have some good Independents or Greens who will hold the balance of power. It is the only way Qld. has any chance of democracy, since the Parliament is a unicameral system. Remember Liz Cunningham anyone? She is the only reason that the last National Govt. was unable to fulfil it's plan to destroy the Daintree.

Anonymous said...

Further to my last post...Sue E, are you available to stand as an Independent for Cook? :-)

Anonymous said...

It was not Liz Cunningham who stopped the Nationals from destroying the Daintree. Labor opposed the original subdivision. It was Labor Governments at a Federal and State level that funded the original buyback to try and reduce the impact of the subdivision after the Nationals rammed it through. It was Labor that prevented the extension of power across the river to limit urban development (and still does). It is a Labor State Government that over ruled the democratically elected geniuses in the former Douglas Shire Council who wanted the property rights of 400 blocks to remain which would have meant further destruction of the area and necessitate a bridge. It is State Labor Government that is buying back those properties with a second buyback. I'll put Labor's record on the Daintree up against anyone's.

Unknown said...

And it is State Labor that flogged off the Cairns Yacht Club site to the highest bidder in a secretive non-transparent process against the wishes of the people of Cairns.

And it is the local State Labor MP's who have refused to represent their electorates on this issue.

Meanwhile in Brisbane the Premier has decided to listen to the wishes of the people and can the North Shore project...

Unknown said...

this was not done "against the wishes of the people of Cairns". Some of the population Yes.

Personally Im glad the building has been "demolished/relocated" and the redevelopment can continue.

To all the people having a go at our elected state reps, why dont you give it a Try? Try and please everyone at once, i bet you wont!

Unknown said...

You're right of course. Only 10 % of the adult population of Cairns signed the petition.I am having a go at our elected representitives, because they are not doing their job representing us in Brisbane.I hope the redeveloment will be to your liking and I'm sure I'll learn to live with it. I just think they missed a golden opportunity to do something original and worthwhile with our waterfront.